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Session Descriptions


Morning Sessions

"Declaring Our Erotic" with Jen Cross

How can erotic writing be transformative practice? What if more of us had full access to our erotic language and sexual expression? Gather with other writers to create a space in which we struggle with, celebrate and reclaim the intricacies of our desire. In this session, we’ll try out some explicit writing, and consider the possibilities of a more creative relationship with such things as sexual identity, body image, sexual desire, sexual practice, and more.

“Paths to Publishing” with Pamela Manché Pearce & Marian Calabro

This session will help you and your group members better understand how to prepare work, offer it to online or traditional publishers, and/or pursue self-publication. Pamela Manché Pearce has recently had poetry published in literary magazines in print and online. Her published work also includes stories, essays, and reviews. She’ll share guidance learned from a publication coach and in workshops, as well as her recordkeeping method. Marian Calabro, a mainstream publishing veteran, will focus on book-length work. She will briefly discuss traditional publishing but will concentrate on self-publishing and print-on-demand, using a variety of books as examples. There will be plenty of time for Q&A.

"Building & Sustaining a For-Profit Business" with Carol Henderson & Tammy L. Coia

Today's crowded market requires entrepreneurs to be inventive as well as use common sense practices to start their businesses and keep them stable and growing. This session offers strategies for a robust business whether just starting or expanding an already established enterprise. Each business is unique in the type of services it offers and the style of management used. You will be given ideas for marketing, developing and refreshing your business based on savvy approaches developed from years of experience and success.   

"Workshops with Writers Under 18" with Lynn Bowmaster & Peggy Simmons

Lynn will share the story of how she began to lead workshops for young people out of her home 14 years ago and how she built her effort into a regular program that now holds separate workshop series 4 days per week for young writers ages 9-18 as well as a summer houseboat writing program. Lynn will address the main components which have built these workshops – safety of space, appropriate prompts, bonding of the group through prompts and social time, a commitment to fun, and careful time management. She will go over a “hit parade” of prompts which work and why, and will lead participants through the beginning of a couple of writing sessions. She is happy to address marketing the workshops, either in presentation or questions.

Peggy will share her successes and failures partnering with youth organizations in San Francisco and Oakland to be able to offer creative writing workshops for teenagers who have the least support or opportunity for their creativity. She can also share the pros and cons of her decision to not try to earn her living through her writing workshops or the fiscally sponsored non-profit program she founded and directs. She looks forward to your questions.


Afternoon Sessions

"Workshops for the Incarcerated" with Karen Buchinsky, Sue Reynolds & Joanne Turnbull

This panel will be led by three writers who work with people who are, or have been, incarcerated: men who run a hospice in a maximum security prison, women and girls in a medium security prison and also in a maximum security jail, formerly incarcerated women, and women on work release who are able to read their work in university classes and other community venues. The session will focus on establishing trust with the writers, writers’ engagement with the AWA method, challenges, accomplishments, and lessons learned.

"How to Create Your AWA Website Post" with Lane Goddard & Katie Frank

Build your presence on the AWA website in this hands-on session. First, we'll walk you through the process of creating an author bio and an affiliate listing. Then there'll be time for you to begin generating your own bio and listing. Both leaders will be available for assistance and to answer questions. Please bring your wifi-ready laptops with any text and photos you think you might use (example: photo of yourself for bio photo, text description of your workshop offerings, etc.) in an easily accessible folder on your computer. Our goal is for you to leave the workshop comfortable and excited about using the AWA website to share and promote your work.

"Manuscript Review: Listening & Responding with Heart & Head" with Patricia Bender & Kathy Dunn

How do you feel when a workshop member hands you a manuscript? Is it a welcome gift, an invitation for both of you to build on skills you already have? It can be.

Writing is both an Art and a Craft. While the two aspects are always in play, the Art side of writing – tapping and giving voice to stories – is often more visible in the workshop.  When a participant asks for help with a manuscript, we have an opportunity to explore the tools of our Craft.  The AWA approach to manuscript review engages writers more deeply in their work – and it offers a process that can be fun as well as instructive. Join veteran leaders Patricia Bender and Kathy Dunn for a hands-on workshop of discovery as we: identify our natural skills as editors; develop ways to learn from the writers and the writing; and become more familiar with the tools and support that help writers thrive.

"Writing Workshop Focus on Fiction Craft" with Joan Marie Wood & Alison Barker

Join Joan Marie Wood and Alison Barker for a discussion about how the AWA method is used to explore craft in fiction. What is craft? How do we incorporate elements such as point of view, character development and dialogue into the exercises we offer? In this session we will write together in response to such prompts and share our experiences and questions as writers and workshop leaders.



Morning Sessions

"Writing Workshop Focus on Poetry Craft" with Pat Schneider

This session is open only to paid Affiliates.

This will be a "Poetry Party," demonstrating for workshop leaders techniques and prompts to playfully but seriously introduce workshop participants to both the fun and the intense power of writing poems. Participants will be led through exercises that are modeled on well-known poems, beginning with very easy, simple forms and increasing in complexity. The purpose is twofold: (1) to "trick, cajole, tempt and playfully assist" writers who think they can't write poems to experience doing it, and (2) to encourage working poets to broaden their repertoire of forms and their purposes in writing poems.

"Building & Sustaining a Non-Profit" with Mary Tuchscherer & Aaron Zimmerman

As we all know, the AWA workshop method is a powerful tool of self-expression, authenticity, and empowerment. Through group discussion and writing exercises, this session will explore harnessing the power of AWA in social justice/social service settings. We will share some of the successes, challenges, inspirations, and histories of our programs, help attendees get in touch with the social issues that are most important to them, and provide some straightforward nut-and-bolts tips about forming and operating a non-profit organization. 

"Guiding Writers to Develop Short Pieces into Larger Work" with Catherine M. Wallace

The writing we do in workshops are like mosaic pieces slowly accumulating on hard drives and in spiral notebooks. Over time, these pieces start calling to us, demanding assembly into some kind of whole. But what?  And how? Here are exercises you can bring home to your own group. Expect ample handouts and a dense, rich writing experience as we do these exercises ourselves, together, sharing just a little now and then.  Bring nothing with you but your implicit memories and a willingness to write nearly nonstop the whole time.  

"Writing & Storytelling Workshop" with Jay O'Callahan

This workshop is designed to awaken memories. Jay will use what he calls "sparks" to elicit memories, which are the seeds of stories. The workshop is to be a time of playing with creativity. Jay will also tell a brief story and show how he uses sound and gesture as well as dialogue and imagery in his stories. Jay has used Pat Schneider's method of creativity and appreciations for years in both his storytelling and his writing workshop.   

Afternoon Sessions

"Workshops for Veterans" with Suzanne Rancourt & Al Miller

Suzanne will bring her experience of writing with veterans to this session, speaking not only about the benefits of the AWA method, but the neuro-cognitive methods that emphasize the strengths and resources working in one's current life. Suzanne brings developmental and cognitive theories into the practical application of daily living. Specializing in the terrains of Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress, and other significant life altering events, Suzanne will offer her approach to healing these deep wounds.

Open Mic

Want to raise your voice? Step out into the open? Share a poem or a page of prose? Do you want to be inspired by the voices around you? Join your fellow writers for an afternoon of reading and listening, of putting yourself forward and sitting back. The Open Mic Session will support your desire for a larger audience and reward your thirst to be entertained. You will participate in the varied and surprising voices that comprise AWA. 

"Using the AWA Method in the College Classroom & Public High School" with Jan Haag & Carla Hanson

The AWA method works well for writing students of all ages. In this workshop, participants will write to prompts that are inviting to college and high school students. In addition to discussing how this method inspires students, the facilitators will share strategies for managing the inherent difficulties that emerge in classrooms.

"Writing Workshop on Memoir Craft" with Maggie Butler & Amy Lyles Wilson

“Perhaps our task, then, is to determine where, in each story, the integrity—the honest heart of the story—rests, while at the same time giving due respect to the events as we remember them.” —Judith Barrington in Writing the Memoir  

We all have a story to tell, and for those of us working on memoirs, the Amherst Writers & Artists method can be the perfect guide for getting to the heart of our memories. Join us as we discuss the unique fit of the AWA method and memoir, share ideas about how best to craft our stories, as well as write in response to prompts designed to draw out the universal from the personal.